While growing up Roald Dahl was one of my favorite authors. I read all his books such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As a child I loved the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory starring Gene Wilder and as an adult I enjoyed the Tim Burton movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I heard that the touring company of the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was coming to the Hershey Theatre. For me, this show does not disappoint. It brought forth Dahl’s Wonka who is eccentric and sarcastic. As an adult, I love this show and could not help, but smile through throughout the experience. The night I was in attendance I was surrounded by many children who seemed to love it as well, they were enthusiastically clapping and laughing as each character appeared on the stage. The stage production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, directed by Jack O’Brien, is exactly what you would expect – a musical filled with zany characters, beloved songs, and complete with “Pure Imagination.”
In case you need to familiarize yourself with the plot, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is about a chocolatier, Willy Wonka, who is opening up his secretive chocolate factory for a tour to a lucky few. One of the children, Charlie Bucket, a good natured child from a poor family, by good fortune finds a golden ticket and his dreams of being able to feast on Wonka’s chocolate and see inside this glorious factory are finally coming true. Charlie and four other golden ticket winners will embark on a journey to see a world of pure imagination. The show includes songs we are all familiar with from the 1971 Gene Wilder film such as “Pure Imagination” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a beloved story and audiences will enjoy every moment of this fun-filled musical.
The night I was in attendance Rueby Wood played the role of Charlie Bucket. Wood brings an innocence and charm to his character. He brings out the imagination of Charlie and he has such a strong stage presence that is was a delight to watch him interact with each of his fellow actors onstage. Plus, watching him sing the song “I’ve Got a Golden Tickets” infused the audience with joy. Portraying the iconic role of Willy Wonka is Noah Weisberg. Weisberg is wonderfully cast in this role as he is both eccentric and suspicious about the motivations of the people touring his factory. He starts off the show with the song “The Candy Man,” which brings a smile to the face of everyone in the audience. In addition, his performance of “Pure Imagination” is chill-inducing and Weisberg’s rendition is full of beautiful vocals. James Young plays Grandpa Joe and he is excellent in this role. He brings a bit of zaniness and a lot of warmth to his role. Some of my favorite moments in the musical are the scenes between Grandpa Joe and Charlie. Young’s heart-warming performance lead audiences to cheer for Grandpa Joe as he wills himself to get out of bed in order to take Charlie to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. I also need to mentions the actors that play the four golden ticket winners, Veruca Salt (Jessica Cohen,) Mike Teavee (Daniel Quadrino,) Violet Beauregarde (Brynn Williams) and Augustus Gloop (Matt Wood.) They were all exceptional at bringing these well-known roles to life. They were perfectly outlandish and gave strong and memorable performances. Also their costumes designed by Mark Thompson are perfectly matched to the personalities of each character. One more group that I want to talk about is the ensemble. The Oompa Loompas are unique, appropriately outlandish and incredibly well-done. I do not want to give anything away, but seeing the Oompa Loompas onstage is well worth the price of admission.
You honestly do not want to miss the tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at Hershey Theatre. It is onstage at Hershey Theatre through September 15, 2019. For more information and tickets please visit the Hershey Theatre website, www.hersheyentertainment.com/hershey-theatre. For more information about the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Tour please visit charlieonbroadway.com.
Final Thought: The tour of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory currently at Hershey Theatre is full of energy and imagination. It is a wonderful show with beloved songs as well as some fantastic new music. The cast is incredible as they bring these well-known characters to life. This is a show you do not want to miss as it will warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.
Photos courtesy of charlieonbroadway.com
Kelli Curtin is founding editor and writer for theatresensation.com. She has maintained a love of the performing arts since a very early age and she is excited to share her passion about theatre and the Arts with her readers. Kelli can be found on Twitter, Facebook and on Instagram.